Bernard Melson | 02 December 2019

Developing Apprentices & Experienced IT People into World-Class Test Engineering Experts

1 Executive Summary

Following extensive market research, this document sets out a vision for increasing the capability and competency of professional Test Engineers through a targeted learning and development programme. People passing through the programme will increase their own thinking, skills and competencies in multiple disciplines and, importantly, organisational capability to help deliver systems solutions that underpin day to day business operations.
The programme has been developed in concert with (and rolled out to) a major systems integration company that was prepared to invest significantly in learning and development to increase capability and extend its value proposition to new and existing clients alike.

The days of people having a single skill have long gone, so this cogent learning and development programme is predicated on building multi-skilled competencies within people and organisations. It will maximise staff capability and utilisation to help reduce operational costs and staff attrition rates. The basis of the programme is to provide a solid foundation from which professional testers can grow as they develop and specialise in key disciplines that both challenge and grow them.

The programme comprises five learning and development streams, each of which seeks to imbue people with multi-layered competencies that are relevant to their experience and which provide extended capability and thinking to develop cogent solutions to business problems – regardless of the development method they employ. The first stream defines a programme for apprentices and people new to testing, with the remaining four streams providing learning matched to career growth and the needs of a modern Test Practice. Each course and optional pathway within a stream has been mapped to SFIA, industry-accepted core principles, competencies and roles, as follows:

1. Test Engineer for apprentices and entry level staff joining the Test Practice. Courses in this stream are aligned with the Government’s ‘Apprenticeship Programme’

2. Senior Test Engineers with at least 2 years’ experience who are keen to develop their test capability further by specialise in one or more test disciplines

3. Lead Test Engineers with at least 4 years’ experience who are looking to become test managers with an additional specialism

4. Test Architects and Consultants with at least 5-years’ experience who will be setting out the stall for major test programmes and influencing decision makers and stakeholders

5. Test Experts who will be driving top level strategy and methods for corporate improvement.

We recommend that each of the five streams be scheduled to run over 2 years, with each one being structured to provide staff with the right blend of practical and certificated learning to become multi-skilled, competency based testing professionals. Within each stream is:

• A series of courses that provide the necessary foundation for each person to take as part of building their general test capability and career growth;

• A series of optional courses and routes to allow an individual and Test Practice to fulfil its specialist technical needs by developing staff with cross-functional competencies • Coaching and mentoring to help people implement and use skills learned.

To give the programme additional kudos within companies adopting the programme, we further recommend that students graduating each stream be awarded an appropriate certificate and that an overall ‘ Diploma of Testing Excellence’ be awarded to all staff reaching streams 4 and 5.

In closing, the programme develops and prepares the professional test engineer for future roles with clients and stakeholders, each of whom can be confident in the engineer’s ability to deliver for them.

2 Learning Modes

TSG Training offers learning in a number of different modes, each of which provides its own benefit: • Traditional Classroom. Courses in this mode follow standard timetables at public and private events.

• Accelerated Classroom: Most ISTQB courses and some others are offered in 12-hour day format so that students can train in a shorter period of time and be available to return to normal office duties earlier. ISTQB Test Manager, for example, is offered in 3-days, rather than the 5-days in a Traditional Classroom event. These courses are intensive and people sitting them need to be prepared accordingly if they are to sit them.

• Virtual Classroom. Remote learning is offered to accommodate people who are distributed, either locally or globally, and who cannot attend a public course. This type of course is generally delivered to private customers and follows the Traditional Classroom format.

• Online Learning. A number of courses are offered online so that students can sit them where and when they want at a time of their own choosing. Access is provided to materials for 6-months
Section A, Training & SFIA Cross Reference, shows a complete list of courses within the programme and the different learning modes available for each.

Every course in the programme is provided with a lifetime’s support from the tutor.

3 Principles and Competencies of the Programme

Following our experience of learning and development programmes and research into what companies require of testing in the future, we have defined a series of ‘Principles and Competencies’ that fit the gamut and need of corporate skills required to deliver first-class systems that help underpin business operations, ranging from the raw intake through to experienced Lead Engineers, Architects, and Experts as follows:

This programme isn’t about certification alone, but is one that provides the right blend of theory and practical learning to develop consistently skilled professional test engineers who can deliver for their stakeholders.

4. The 5-Stream Programme

The professional Test Engineer career development programme contains five key streams, with each being rigorously designed and tested to reflect the principles and competencies that are key to success and growing capability within a Test Practice. Each stream interfaces seamlessly to the next to provide continuous investment in people and career growth:

4.1 The Five Key Streams

At the broadest level, each stream is designed to reflect modern test engineering principles, coupled with competencies that meet the needs of a Test Practice and varying development models, supported by capability from competent, multi-skilled individuals. The programme is designed for people to enter a learning stream that is relevant to their experience:

1. The Test Engineer is for apprentices and entry level staff embarking on a career in software testing, and for experienced staff from other disciplines who may be transferring in.

2. The Senior Test Engineer with at least two years’ experience, who is ready to step up to using more advanced techniques, choosing to specialise or move to the early stages of team leadership.

3. The Lead Test Engineer with at least four years’ experience, already specialising and needing to be ready for the demands of test management or increasingly complex technical roles.

4. The Test Architect with at least five years’ experience, ready to make the jump to the business-critical role of defining and building test architectures for major programmes.

5. The Test Expert who has at least 10-years’ experience of leading major programme delivery and organisational change and benefit.

4.2 The Test Engineer

The Test Engineer stream is designed for people with little or no software testing experience and for others with up to two years’ experience who can join the stream at an appropriate point. The courses within the stream are mapped to the UK Government’s Apprenticeship scheme and qualify for funding up to 90%

4.2.1 The Test Engineer Roadmap

The stream supports the key competencies of:
• Agile Testing
• Artificial Intelligence
• to Automated Testing
• Business Testing
• DevOps & Model Based Testing
• Performance Testing • Programming

As can be seen in Figure 2 – The Test Engineer Capability Roadmap, there is:
• A series of mandatory courses to qualify for Government funding.
• Several optional courses to suit early specialisms.

People passing through the stream will have done so with the skills necessary to function as a Test Engineer who takes on and manages the tasks of:
• Requirements analysis and de-construction
• Test Analysis, Specification, Design, and Execution
• Test Reporting.

The skills learned are relevant and portable to all development methods.
Note: Unless someone is transferring into a Test Practice who has no software testing experience, we envisage the Test Engineer role being the only one of the five to be eligible for ‘Government Apprenticeship Funding’ in full.

4.2.2 Test Engineer Learning & Development Narrative

4.3 The Senior Test Engineer

The Senior Test Engineer stream is designed for people who have at least two-years’ software testing on projects and have expressed a desire to make testing their career goal and move up the ladder of seniority within a Test Practice.
Students graduating The Test Engineer stream are expected to join this stream at the beginning, whereas others with relevant experience can join at any point.

4.3.1 The Senior Test Engineer Roadmap

Some courses in Stream 2 are repeated from Stream
1. However, this is only to ensure that everyone has the full skill set. If a course has been taken in Stream 1 then it need not be taken again here.
The stream supports and enables people to acquire skill in the key competencies of:
• Advanced Agile Testing
• Agile Scrum
• Artificial Intelligence
• Automated Testing
• Business Testing
• Model Based
• Performance Testing
• Team Leaders and aspiring Test Managers
• Technical Testing, such as SI, Infrastructure, etc.

Supporting 9 key competencies, Stream 2 contains a mandatory course and 8-optional course paths that allow the Senior Test Engineer to specialise in key skills areas as they progress toward Lead Test Engineer or Test Architect.

Whilst the paths are optional, we recommend that at least one be completed to graduate. Staff not taking ISTQB Test Manager in this stream will face it in the next . It is not envisaged that any of the courses in this stream will be eligible for ‘Government Apprenticeship Funding’ unless someone is transferring into a role where there is a requirement to learn at least 51% of new skills to fulfil it.

4.3.2 Senior Test Engineer Courses Narrative

4.4 The Lead Test Engineer

The stream supports the key competencies of:
• Technical Testing • Agile Testing
• Advanced Automated Testing
• Performance Testing
• Test Team Leader or Test Manager or Product Owner
• Test Process Improvement • Security Testing

As can be seen in Figure 4 – The Lead Test Engineer Capability Roadmap, there is a series of mandatory courses and optional paths for Advanced Test Automation, Test Process Improvement and other key competencies. Whilst the paths are optional, we recommend at least one be completed to graduate from the stream and attain an ‘Test Practice Diploma’.

Note: It is not envisaged that any of the courses in this stream will be eligible for ‘Government Apprenticeship Funding’ unless someone is transferring into a role where there is a requirement to learn at least 51% of new skills to fulfil it.

4.4.2 Lead Test Engineer Learning & Development Narrative

4.6 The Test Expert

The Test Expert stream is designed for the people who are moving to the very top of their career to the point where they can lead major programmes, such as business critical integration, drive technology solutions, set organisational strategy, lead the business and operate as an experienced consultant on behalf of both internal and external stakeholders.

4.6.1 The Test Expert Roadmap

The stream supports the key competencies of:
• Programme Test Management for large scale programmes
• Control and Management
• Test Process Development and Improvement • Measurement and Improvement

As can be seen in Figure 6 – The Test Expert Capability Roadmap, there is one mandatory course, ISTQB Test Manager (which is more of a requirement that should have been fulfilled previously), interspersed with three optional paths within the stream that are targeted to achieving excellence in key areas of developmental quality and delivery. Whist the paths are optional, they link back to mandatory courses that a student must pass if they are to graduate the stream and be awarded a ‘Test Practice Diploma’.

Note: It is not envisaged that any of the courses in this stream will be eligible for ‘Government Apprenticeship Funding’ unless someone is transferring into a role where there is a requirement to learn at least 51% of new skills to fulfil it.

4.6.2 Test Expert Learning & Development Narrative

5 Benefits of the Approach

In helping to meet the requirements of building capability within a modern Test Practice we have clearly delineated the roles and mapped them to training functions to be supported, aligned with stated principles and competencies:
• Courses will be delivered by experienced staff who have at least 20-years’ experience gained from training and programme delivery at the sharp-end.
• The experience the trainers bring will allow them to offer the ever-important analogies and war-stories to make training relevant and accessible.
• All courses are ready to go, except for ISTQB Certified Mobile App Tester. • Courses can be tailored to meet specific requirements; although for ISTQB courses we are limited to 10% variation without having to reaccredit.
• We can provide private training courses anywhere or staff can attend any of the courses that we run on our public schedule.
• We will agree and put in place a monitoring and measurement system to make sure that:
o The delegate experience is rich.
o People are passing exams at the expected rate.
o The overall programme is delivering against its aims.

A. Training & SFIA Cross Reference

The following table identifies:
• The Knowledge Levels (K) that each course and exam is aimed at:
• The SFIA Levels and the suitability of courses by the identified role types.

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